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- The Romance of Elaine - 60/62 -

of the men fell back, hit, but, in turn, a large number managed to gain a foothold on the ledge.

Led by Woodward and Arnold, they formed quickly and stripped off the waterproof coverings of their weapons, returning the fire sharply. Things were more equal now. Several of Del Mar's men had fallen. The smoke of battle filled the narrow harbor.

In the office Elaine listened keenly to the shots. What did it all mean? Clearly it could be nothing less than assistance coming.

The man on guard heard also and his uncontrollable curiosity took him to the door. As he gazed out Elaine saw her chance. She made a rush at him and seized him, wresting the rifle from his hands before he knew it. She sprang back just as he drew his revolver and fired at her. The shot just narrowly missed her, but she did not lose her presence of mind. She fired the rifle in turn and the man fell.

A little shudder ran over her. She had killed a man! But the firing outside grew fiercier. She had no time to think. She stepped over the body, her face averted, and ran out. There she could see Del Mar and his men. Many of them by this time had been killed or wounded.

"We can't beat them; they are too many for us," muttered Del Mar. "We'll have to get away if we can. Into the submarine!" he ordered.

Hastily they began to pile into the open hatch.

Just as Del Mar started to follow them, he caught sight of Elaine running out of the office. Almost in one leap he was at her side. Before she could raise her rifle and fire he had seized it. She managed, however, to push him off and get away from him.

She looked about for some weapon. There on the ledge lay one of the hand grenades. She picked it up and hurled it at him, but he dodged and it missed him. On it flew, landing close to the submarine. As it exploded, another of Del Mar's men toppled over into the water.

Between volleys, Woodward, Arnold and the rest pulled off their helmets.

"Elaine!" cried Arnold, catching sight of her in the hands of Del Mar.

Quickly, at the head of such men as he could muster, the hermit led a charge.

In the submarine the last man was waiting for Del Mar. As the hermit ran forward with several soldiers between Del Mar and the submarine, it was evident that Del Mar would be cut off.

The man at the hatch climbed down into the boat. It was useless to wait. He banged shut and clamped the hatch. Slowly the submarine began to sink.

Del Mar by this time had overcome Elaine and started to run toward the submarine with her. But then he stopped short.

There was a queer figure of a hermit leading some soldiers. He was cut off.

"Back into the office!" he growled, dragging Elaine.

He banged shut the door just as the hermit and the soldiers made a rush at him. On the door they battered. But it was in vain. The door was locked.

In the office Del Mar hastily went to a corner, after barring the door, and lifted a trap-door in the floor, known only to himself.

Elaine did not move or make any attempt to escape, for Del Mar in addition to having a vicious looking automatic in his hand kept a watchful eye on her.

Outside the office, the soldiers, led by the hermit and Woodward continued to batter at the door.

"Now--go down that stairway--ahead of me," ordered Del Mar.

Elaine obeyed tensely, and he followed into his emergency exit, closing the trap.

"Beat harder, men," urged the hermit, as the soldiers battered at the door.

They redoubled their efforts and the door bent and swayed.

At last it fell in under the sheer weight of the blows.

"By George--he's gone--with Elaine," cried the hermit, looking at the empty office.

Feverishly they hunted about for a means of escape but could find none.

"Pound the floor and walls with the butts of your guns," ordered Arnold. "There must be some place that is hollow."

They did so, going over all inch by inch.

Meanwhile, through the passage, along a rocky stairway, Del Mar continued to drive Elaine before him, up and ever up to the level of the land.

At last Elaine, followed by Del Mar, emerged from the rocky passage in a cleft in the cliffs, far above the promontory.

"Go on!" he ordered, forcing her to go ahead of him.

They came finally to a small hut on a cliff overlooking the real harbor.

"Enter!" demanded Del Mar.

Still meekly, she obeyed.

Del Mar seized her and before she knew it had her bound and gagged.

Down in the little office our men continued to search for the secret exit.

"Here's a place that gives an echo," shouted one of them.

As he found the secret trap and threw it open, the hermit stripped off the cumbersome diving-suit and jumped in, followed by Woodward, myself and the soldiers.

Upward we climbed until at last we came to the opening. There we paused and looked about. Where was Del Mar? Where was Elaine? We could see no trace of them.

Finally, however, Arnold discovered the trail in the grass and we followed him, slowly picking up the tracks.

. . . . . . .

Knowing that the submarine would cruise about and wait for him, Del Mar decided to leave Elaine in the hut while he went out and searched for a boat in which to look for the submarine.

Coming out of the hut, he gazed about and moved off cautiously. Stealthily he went down to the shore and there looked up and down intently.

A short distance away from him was a pier in the process of construction. Men were unloading spiles from a cable car that ran out on the pier on a little construction railway, as well as other material with which to fill in the pier. At the end of the dock lay a power-boat, moored, evidently belonging to some one interested in the work on the pier.

The workmen had just finished unloading a car full and were climbing back on the empty car, which looked as if it had once been a trolley. As Del Mar looked over the scene of activity, he caught sight of the powerboat.

"Just what I want," he muttered to himself. "I must get Elaine. I can get away in that."

The workmen signalled to the engineer above and the car ran up the wharf and up an incline at the shore-end.

The moment the car disappeared, Del Mar hurried away in the direction he had come.

At the top of the grade, he noticed, was a donkey engine which operated the cable that drew the car up from the dock, and at the top of the incline was a huge pile of material.

The car had been drawn up to the top of the grade by this time. There the engineer who operated the engine stopped it.

Just then the whistle blew for the noon hour. The men quit work and went to get their dinner pails, while the engineer started to draw the fire. Beside the engine, he began to chop some wood, while the car was held at the top of the grade by the cable.

. . . . . . .

In our pursuit we came at last in sight of a lonely hut. Evidently that must be a rendezvous of Del Mar. But was he there? Was Elaine there? We must see first.

While we were looking about and debating what was the best thing to do, who should appear hurrying up the hill but Del Mar himself, going toward the hut.

As we caught sight of him, Arnold sprang forward. Woodward and I, followed by the soldiers also jumped out.

Del Mar turned and ran down the hill again with us after him, in full cry.

While we had been waiting, some of the soldiers had deployed down the hill and now, hearing our shouts, turned, and came up again.

The Romance of Elaine - 60/62

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